Sluggish economic activity over the past year has made for lean times at many La Cañada Flintridge restaurants, but local culinary entrepreneurs are optimistic that 2011 will bring resurgence in customers' appetites.
In 2010, locals continued a three-year trend of scaling back on dining out, making fewer visits and running up lower checks, said several restaurant owners.
At Berge's sandwich shop, a local institution at its current Foothill Boulevard location since 1979, sales started to rebound late last year but diners continue to purchase fewer beverages and side orders than before recession hit, according to manager John Yeghiaian.
While sandwich orders are down less than 10%, the restaurant sells as much as two-thirds fewer drinks with those sandwiches, he said.
"We're almost back to normal, and that's shocking given how much we were down at the midway point of the year. What hasn't come back, though, are the drinks and chips and salads. We've started giving out water cups at a phenomenal rate," Yeghiaian said.